70 Not Out: An Interview With The Chairman

From 8 ball overs and 3pm starts to scorebook shenanigans and post match fisticuffs, the current Chairman of the Derbyshire and Cheshire Cricket League, Martin Cooper can boast a playing career spanning 46 years and a lifetime of anecdotal richness, from scoring in the early 1960s with his childhood friend Geoff Hudson, to umpiring the 2017 Bissenden Final.

“My first memories of the League are men in thick cream, turned-up flannels, (occasionally held-up with black belts), neckerchiefs, and brylcreemed hair.

As the DCCL celebrates 70 years, it’s also worth remembering the reasons and controversy behind the original split from the High Peak League.

“The DCCL was concocted-for want of a better word- on the Hayfield Branch Line, calling at Birch Vale, New Mills, and Romiley, en route to Manchester Central, wherein certain influential businessmen discussed the thorny issue of Bugsworth’s impending promotion from the High Peak League Second Division”

Bugsworth were top on merit, but they lacked the political clout of the team they were due to replace.

“To be fair, the Bugsworth facilities had left a lot to be desired, and the wicket would only receive a cursory 10 minute roll with a light roller, which the skilful Les Gagen and Jess Smith soon exploited accordingly. Either New Mills or Birch Vale had finished bottom of the First Division, and hence despite much public outcry, the Derbyshire and Cheshire Cricket League was duly formed”

Ironically, the High Peak Second Division had also contained Hawk Green, Marple, Hyde, and Droylsden,

The inaugural 1952 league consisted of Dove Holes, Chapel-en-le-Frith, Whaley Bridge, Hayfield, New Mills, Birch Vale, Compstall Romiley, Bredbury St Marks, Stockport Sunday School, Hazel Grove, and Poynton.

“ The first winners, for the one and only time, were the now defunct Stockport Sunday School, who for many years, had some fine players, notably David Johnson, Len Kynaston, and indeed at one time, the former Cheshire County Chairman, John Howarth. At the time, they had an excellent square, with a Full Time Groundsman, and Nangreave Road was always a difficult place to get a result”

Transport was always a thorny, time-consuming issue.

“Cars were a rarity, and I vividly recall one occasion when the Taxi had arrived late, and by the time my dad (Bryan) arrived at Hazel Grove, one of the Grove batsman Jack Sterry had already reached 99.

As Bryan stormed onto the field-his foot crashing through a rotten floorboard in the process, Sterry was immediately clean bowled by the occasional bowler, David Belfield"

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